I wrote an opinion piece a couple of weeks ago called "Thankfully, Biff Tannen will not be president." It more or less said there was no way a thrice-married serial adulterer, misogynist, bankrupt casino owner, self-promoting sexual predator, liar, tax dodger, alleged fraudster, draft evader and a man who regularly stiffed his tradesmen could ever win the presidency. But that''s where we are today. That''s democracy, folks.
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As for the polling industry, what comes to mind is that old Monty Python sketch called "Election Night Special" where [/span]Michael Palin says, "The election went largely as I predicted except that the Silly Party won. This is largely due to the number of votes cast."
How this boorish, pompous real estate mogul and reality TV star with no experience whatsoever in the art of governing (and with all the aforementioned flaws highlighted in the first paragraph of this article) could be preferable to a woman who has spent most of her life in public service is beyond me. When you compare each candidate's flaws on a balance sheet, how on Earth could her flaws be worse than his — unless a substantial portion of the American electorate just couldn't stand the thought of being led by a smart, ambitious woman with experience and would rather vote for The Groper?
To give credit where credit is due, the Donald Trump campaign saw votes in Florida, the Rust Belt states and rural America where Trump's "Make America great again" message resonated with those who had either lost their jobs to Mexico or Asia, those who want a wall built to stop illegal immigration from Mexico or those in rural and small-town America who wanted to give the political establishment (Hillary Clinton) the middle finger. There may have been a few voters who just didn't like a black president and didn't want a woman president either. Oh, and maybe the Democrats just didn't do a good job at campaigning in the right places.
The poolside chatter here in Mexico the day after the election is decidedly pro-Trump.
There were open celebrations in one of the bars last night among Trump supporters. A Clinton supporter I spoke to today was in shock and kept looking around to ensure nobody else was listening. The Mexicans (particularly the hard-working staff I engaged with here) are in stoic horror.
The American TV morning shows are aglow the morning after the election, touting how wonderful American democracy is. But is it? How do you "come together" and get past Trump's past? How do Americans explain the new president's bigotry against Muslims, Mexicans and blacks, his comments about women and his campaign rhetoric about jailing Clinton (and on one occasion, talking about her assassination) to school-aged children?
If Trump's election promises are carried out, a Trump victory could mean cancelling trade deals such as NAFTA, putting his political opponent behind bars, between one and three new conservative originalist judges on the Supreme Court, sending home hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants (and/or preventing them from sending money home), a wall on the Mexican border, throwing climate change agreements out the window and emasculating the EPA, disbanding gun-free zones around schools, burning more coal, taking away health coverage for 25 million Americans, a possible air and ground war against ISIS in the Middle East, torturing alleged terrorists and killing their families in violation of the Rule of Law and the Geneva Conventions and denying a woman's right to choose. Women, minorities, members of the LGBTQ community, Muslims, Mexicans and much of the free world should be concerned.
I really hope Trump was pathologically lying when he made those outrageous election promises. Otherwise, we'll be calling his presidency America's "Second" Republic (everything beforehand being the "First" Republic).
What does this mean for Canadians? First, it means a lot of economic uncertainty (pay down your mortgage soon, folks). Trudeau must tread very carefully with a more protectionist and xenophobic U.S. We are a trading nation. Trade pays the taxes that support our social services. If trade between the U.S. and Canada is at risk, then we must work hard to save that relationship — and we should find new markets for our products as well. We should really be doing more free trade deals with other countries, such as the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.
Second, everyone should read "Liberty Moves North" in the Oct. 29 issue of The Economist. It was the magazine's cover article. "Who will uphold the torch of openness in the West?" the piece asked. Not the "grievance mongering" Donald Trump, who would build a wall on Mexico’s border. Nor is it post-Brexit U.K. or Germany or France. "In this depressing company of wall-builders, door-slammers and drawbridge-raisers, Canada stands out as a heartening exception," according to the piece. If the U.S. wants to take a different path from the beacon of liberty it has been, then Canada can and should fill the moral void, setting an example to the world about what a free, open, compassionate and multicultural civil society looks like. These are the real Canadian values, in a world that needs way more Canada right now.
Third, we shouldn't be discouraging U.S. immigration to Canada. In fact, we should be actively encouraging it as a matter of policy. We need more people in Canada, and there may be hundreds of thousands of Americans "longing to breathe free" who might find a more welcoming and civil society in Canada than Trump's America. They might even move their businesses up here, too.